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3 Latin American leaders offer Snowden asylum

Agencies | Updated: 2013-07-07 17:13

RUSSIA IMPATIENT

Moscow has shown signs of growing impatience. Its Russia's deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum there and needed to choose a place to go.  

Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

Both Russia's Foreign Ministry and President Vladimir Putin's spokesman declined to comment on Venezuela's offer.

"This is not our affair," said spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

But senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker Alexei Pushkov, head of the lower house of parliament's international affairs committee, said asylum in Venezuela would be Snowden's best option.

The White House declined to comment. But one US official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity, said: "It's fair to say in general that US officials have been pressuring governments where Snowden might try to go to do the right thing here."

Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous leader and a former union leader for the country's coca leaf farmers, and Maduro both condemned the US spy programs that Snowden revealed and said he deserved protection.

"Who is the guilty one? A young man ... who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?" Maduro asked, to applause and cheers from ranks of military officers at a parade.  

"Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?"

Foreign Minster Elias Jaua said late on Saturday that Venezuela had not heard from Snowden since Maduro made his offer.

"There has not been any type of communication," Jaua told state television. "We are waiting until Monday to know whether he confirms his wish to take asylum in Venezuela."

Since narrowly winning a presidential vote in April that followed Chavez's death from cancer, Maduro has often lambasted the United States, even accusing it of plotting to kill him.

But the former bus driver and union leader has at times also struck a much more conciliatory note, saying he is ready for better relations with Washington, based on mutual respect.

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